Career counseling is a critical component of preparing high school students for university studies. Schools in developing countries do not have the resources to employ career counselors. Pakistan is an example of a resource-constrained developing country that has limited career counseling resources available to high school students.
To investigate how students in Pakistan make career decisions, we surveyed 450 university students across Pakistan. Only 14% of university students at the four leading universities reported having adequate information when deciding their career paths. Furthermore, we surveyed 614 high school students from three schools serving very different socioeconomic segments of the society. More than 80% of high school students surveyed were interested in pursuing a very narrow set of career paths limited to engineering, business, or medicine. This again is a consequence of under-informed decisions and a “herd” mentality, rather than a creative and exploratory approach.
The goal of Mashvarah is to democratize career advice: every student that needs advice will have access to a career advisor. The web-based platform envisions bringing together a comprehensive set of advisors, including university students, university faculty, working professionals, and professional career advisors. We believe this will lead to more informed career choices, ultimately creating a more vibrant and intellectually diverse workforce.
Sohail Feroz Ali, Co-Founder, is from Pakistan and brings extensive first-hand knowledge of the education system in Pakistan. Since November 2012, Sohail has been surveying schools and universities in Pakistan to assess and analyze the unmet career counseling needs of high school students. Sohail will work full-time for Mashvarah in Pakistan and will serve as Mashavrah’s primary liaison with university collaborators, target schools and advisors. Sohail holds MS and MS-CEP degrees in Chemical Engineering from MIT and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech.